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Characterizing the nectar microbiome of the non-native tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, in an urban environment


Theiss, Kathryn; Kram, Karin; Warren, Magdalena (2020), Characterizing the nectar microbiome of the non-native tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, in an urban environment, Dryad, Dataset,


In increasingly urban landscapes, the loss of native pollen and nectar floral resources is impacting ecologically important pollinators. Increased urbanization has also brought about the rise of urban gardens which introduce new floral resources that may help replace those the pollinators have lost. Recently, studies have shown that the microbial communities of nectar may play an important role in plant-pollinator interactions, but these microbial communities and the floral visitors in urban environments are poorly studied. In this study we characterized the floral visitors and nectar microbial communities of Ascelpias curassavica, a non-native tropical milkweed commonly, in an urban environment. We found that the majority of the floral visitors to A. curassavica were honey bees followed closely by monarch butterflies. We also found that there were several unique visitors to each site, such as ants, wasps, solitary bees, several species of butterflies and moths, Anna’s hummingbird, and the tarantula hawk wasp. Significant differences in the nectar bacterial alpha and beta diversity were found across the urban sites, although we found no significant differences among the fungal communities. We found that the differences in the bacterial communities were more likely due to the environment and floral visitors rather than physiological differences in the plants growing at the gardens. Greater understanding of the impact of urbanization on the nectar microbiome of urban floral resources and consequently their effect on plant-pollinator relationships will help to predict how these relationships will change with urbanization, and how negative impacts can be mitigated through better management of the floral composition in urban gardens.


The V4 region of the bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA gene and the fungal internal transcribed spacer 1 region (ITS1) were amplified with Illumina adapters on the 5’ ends of both forward and reverse primers.

Usage Notes

These files are paired-end 16S rRNA and fungal internal transcribed spacer 1 region (ITS1) fastq files. They have been demultiplexed according to inflorescence as described in the metadata file. These fastq files have not had the 16S and ITS1 primers, for bacterial and fungal reads respectively, trimmed, and they are not merged. The files ending in "R1_001.fastq.gz" contain the forward reads, and those ending in "R2_001.fastq.gz" contain the reverse reads. 


National Science Foundation, Award: 1727074

National Science Foundation, Award: 1715066

National Institutes of Health, Award: R25GM66652

National Science Foundation, Award: 1656518